Dr Rose Gidado, Deputy Director, National Biotechnology Development Agency(NABDA), says there are potential for longer shelf life of fruits and vegetables through “gene editing”which reduces the metabolic rate.
She made this known in Abuja.
Gidado, also the Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) said whatever gene responsible for making tomatoes perishable could be worked on to lengthen vegetables shelf life such as tomatoes.
“We have what we call gene editing which is a newer version and it’s less cumbersome.
“Gene doesn’t have to be brought from anywhere; work is done within the genome of a plant by opening it up and removing the gene responsible for causing the spoilage of the crop.
“This is the diseased gene that is prone to disease attack, you take care of it by either deleting it or cutting it off and repairing the system.
“At the end of the day, Nigerians are expecting tomato with a longer shelf life that they can keep for a long time on the shelf without getting spoilt and that is value addition,’’ she said.
Gidado said that tomatoes were perishables with very short life which actually affected their availability most times bringing about post harvest losses.
She said tomato farmers were usually forced to sell them off on time to avoid them getting rotten.
“Sometimes if the vehicle develops fault or accident occurs during transportation from the farm after harvest to processing or market zones, it means everything will get spoilt,” she said.
She said that high moisture content in most vegetables attracted a lot of microbial activities.
“The water activities are usually high and in such situation, it’s prone to have more micro organisms, the pathogenic ones.
“Based on these problems, the solution is to go genetic way and actually work on it by developing tomatoes with lower water activity, and reduced moisture to prolong shelf life,’’ she said.
Gidado said that once the shelf life was lengthened, it would enhance the shelf life quality and could be kept for long period of time without them getting spoilt.
“At least that adds to the economic value, it’s like value addition because farmers can transport it over long period of time, long distance without suffering losses,’’ Gidado said.